Coke

General topics about using bituminous coal for residential and commercial heating. Pros, cons, and where to get it.
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cokehead
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Post Thu. Dec. 27, 2007 10:40 pm

Coke is made from bituminous coal in a process similiar to making wood charcoal. You end up with a clean burning product. My father told me my grandfather used it in the 1920's. Hard coal serves me well but I have been curious about coke and bituminous. Unfortunately both are hard to come by in CT so I haven't been able to experiment with either one. Due to it's smokey reputation I don't think burning soft coal is responsible unless you have a stove designed for it but coke would be a good fuel if an economic source was available to the home ouner. Does anyone out there have any personal experience with coke? Does anyone know of a source in south eastern Connecticut? Burning coal is mostly about economy and I don't expect I would ever burn coke in any quanity unless the price was right. Jonathan
"When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic. As we must account for every idle word, so must we account for every idle silence. Half a truth is often a great lie. He that lives upon hope will die fasting. Rather go to bed with out dinner than to rise in debt. The Constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself." Benjamin Franklin


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coaledsweat
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Post Thu. Dec. 27, 2007 10:49 pm

Bituminous cannot be purchased in CT. The DEP bans fuels above 1% sulpher and bituminous is up there. I don't know where coke falls as far as that goes. Anthracite is readily available and burns with no smoke. I don't know much about coke, but I think it burns a lot hotter than anthracite. Would it be safe to use in a anthracite or bituminous designed firebox? What are its needs as far as draft compared to the two coals. I know there are a few guys here that know about coke, whats the deal?
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ken
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Post Thu. Dec. 27, 2007 11:20 pm

it's a big prosess to make coke. as far as I know it's only used to make steel. I dout it would be cheaper then anthracite.
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europachris
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Post Fri. Dec. 28, 2007 9:03 am

Coke used to be readily available WAY back when as it was a byproduct of the gas industry. The big gas houses would coke the coal and pipe the gas to consumers for lighting and cooking. The coke was then sold as domestic fuel, either as-is or compressed into briquettes as coke is very fragile and light in its native state, like really fragile lava rock.

Any more, coke is made strictly for steel production and used at the mills. I don't know of any commercial coke operations where coal is coked specifically for the byproducts from the process and the resultant coke is sold on the open market. Doesn't mean there aren't any, but I don't know of any.

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Post Fri. Dec. 28, 2007 6:39 pm

I live 2 miles away from one of the biggest coke producing plants in the U.S.,if im correct I think its the biggest.Clairton works,owned and operated by U.S. Steel.I also live downwind from it .I can see the heavy smoke from my house.I was able to get a hold of a bucket ,but I havent tried it yet .Maybe this weekend I'll give it a try .I'll keep you posted.

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cokehead
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Post Fri. Dec. 28, 2007 7:25 pm

Thankyou Ken, Chris, Painter, and Ian for your input. My father had told me about the city gas industry being a source of coke so that is confirmation. Coke is made from bituminous so although it must be processed the raw material you start with is less expensive. The final product SHOULD be slightly more expensive than anthracite if it where in the normal supply chain. Moot point because it's not. I believe coke is still used in homes in England. The reason being it is clean burning. As for the sulfur content of bituminous, it varies a lot. I beleive the Western US has a lot of low sulfur bituminous. Problem is shipping is a major expense with coal. Get out of the normal supply chain there is no economy. I tried contacting a manager of a power plant near my home who is sitting on 1000's of tons of compliance coal brought in by barge and he wouldn't respond to me. I don't blame him. He is in the business of generating electricity not retailing bituminous. I didn't know bi was banned for home use in CT at time. I had to try to satisfy my curiosity though. As far as burning coke I think you are right about the potential of overfiring your stove. If anyone was to play with it caution would be well advised. My interest in coke and bi, I admit, is more about personal nostalga and understanding that experience brings. As far as burning bi goes the only stove I'm aware of designed for it was made by Vermont Castings. I think it was an airtight with a lot of air going to the top of the firebox to provide O2 to consume the volitales before they go up the chimney as smoke. I hope to hear from any and all who have 2 cents to add. Jonathan
"When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic. As we must account for every idle word, so must we account for every idle silence. Half a truth is often a great lie. He that lives upon hope will die fasting. Rather go to bed with out dinner than to rise in debt. The Constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself." Benjamin Franklin

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Post Sat. Dec. 29, 2007 4:43 pm

Morso advertises their stoves to burn wood or coal, I am lookimg at one of their inserts. I am sure they mean bituminous.

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Duengeon master
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Post Sun. Dec. 30, 2007 10:33 am

I was able to get my hands on a small amount of coke once. It was very hard to get it to burn. it made no smoke at all. I also like to play with different types of coal. You just have to look for it. It's easy to find different types of coal when you drive a truck.
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Post Sun. Dec. 30, 2007 10:34 am

cokehead wrote:I didn't know bi was banned for home use in CT at time.


I don't think it is banned for use, just that it can't be sold in CT as it has over 1% sulpher content. It would cost more than anthracite because it has to be shipped further and with a typically lower BTU content and difficuties burning it, it really doesn't make sense to use here in CT.
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coalminer
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Post Sun. Dec. 30, 2007 3:14 pm

I would not reccomend using coke to heat a home. You could probably find bagged coke on the blacksmith forums found on the net but it needs a good supply of air from below to really get it going- hence the "bellows" you will see in the blacksmith shop. In regard to the high sulphur content of bituminous coal, there are many different seams of coal here in the bituminous regions of pennsylvania. I have seen sulphur contents as high as 5% but the average is probably around 2%. The particular seam I am mining now has in the pit specs of 13500 BTU's per pound with an ash content as received of 8.5% and a sulphur content of 0.67%. I burn it in my home and it is always toasty in here.

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Post Thu. Jan. 24, 2008 2:27 pm

I burn bit. and as a by-product I get coke every time I burn . I also get it for $80 per ton(bit.) I can't say what cost would be for the coke but I have blacksmiths that do it part time who want to buy it.

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Post Fri. Jan. 25, 2008 12:45 am

unless it's pelletized Petrolium coke, which can be had very easily if you have an oil refinery near you, coal-derived coke is very volumnous and although high btu/pound it takes a huge volume of it to produce the same amount of heat as pet coke or anthricite, basically anthricite is simply concentrated coke.

btw, the guy that runs the plant probably won't respond to you via email for the reasons that you've mentioned, however, should you actually be polite but persistant and go to the plant in person, you will likely have success. this is also very likely PRB coal which is subbituminous/bituminous however it is below the 1% sulfur threashold so it would be more than completely legit for a transaction to take place in ct if you're worried about that. btw, what company operates the plant that you mentioned?
Burning western Pennsylvania Bituminous in WNY using model 77 stoker furnace. BITUMINOUS equiptment: 2 hand fired stoves of my own design, Many Combustioneer Model 77 stokers, stokermatic furnace, Many Will-Burt stokers, & and Two Iron firemen.

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Post Thu. Feb. 28, 2008 10:25 pm

When I was growing up my dad used to use coke to heat our house. We had a stove/boiler in the kitchen and would go to the gas works to buy coke. It is funny that today you hear about coal gasification etc. as though it was new technology. Burned really clean and hot. Used to start it out on soft coal which we used in the fireplace in the living room to heat that room on Sundays.

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cokehead
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Post Fri. Apr. 24, 2009 11:52 pm

Thanks to Dungeon Master I finally got my hands on so bit to play with. It burned in 3 distinctive stages. The flare, then a fairly long period where it burns like charcoal, and finally a very long low heat output period even if I get it a lot of air. When it flairs it burns smokey and produced lots of soot which coated the inside of the stove and stove pipe in the first stage. I kind of liked the smell but I'm not sure about the neighbors. In the second stage the bit kind of melts together into a large mass that I have to break up with the poker after the initial flare up is over. It puts out a fair amount of heat and little smoke durring that stage. In the third stage I find that the fire lingered at a low heat output almost forever. The third stage lasted so long that it was filing the stove up so I couldn't continue to add layers of fresh coal. If I were heating with it in earnest I think I would of had to shake some of the coal in the third stage into the ash pan to make room for a fresh batch. There wasn't as much ash as when I burned antricite and the ash was almost powdery when I shake the grates. I'm glad I got a chance to experience it but it won't be my first choice as an everyday heat source.

I'm letting the stove go out tomorrow. If I need a little heat I'll burn brush and trash to take the chill off. Unless I get my little coal fired hot water heater set up, I think I'm done with coal for the season. Maybe next fall if I can get my hands on some coke I get that figured out. hint hint :D
"When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic. As we must account for every idle word, so must we account for every idle silence. Half a truth is often a great lie. He that lives upon hope will die fasting. Rather go to bed with out dinner than to rise in debt. The Constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself." Benjamin Franklin

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Post Sat. Apr. 25, 2009 10:11 am

what you had in the firebox for the last burn stage WAS coke. needs a lot of air to maintain heat output. if you have neighbors right next door it may not be a good idea, it's not so much the smell, but the little soot balls that fall down within 10 feet or so of your chimney may annoy them if they fall on their vehicle etc. (obviously they won't harm anything and will just wash or blow off). what you had sounds like a coal w/ a very high fixed carbon content and high swelling index, you need a coal w/ lower swelling index and lower fixed carbon content to maintain steady heat output throughout the burn cycle w/ out having to adjust the underfire air. the nice thing about good bit coal is that it burns easily, produces as much heat as anthracite and does it w/ less ash and does it for a lot less money; only downside is a little good clean soot.
Burning western Pennsylvania Bituminous in WNY using model 77 stoker furnace. BITUMINOUS equiptment: 2 hand fired stoves of my own design, Many Combustioneer Model 77 stokers, stokermatic furnace, Many Will-Burt stokers, & and Two Iron firemen.


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